A new study has found that the Delta variant of the coronavirus is having a significant impact on small businesses, with some delaying a return to the workplace and many planning to make COVID vaccinations mandatory for their employees.
Research by JumpCloud has investigated the ways in which small firms are responding to the threats currently posed by coronavirus - and the Delta variant in particular. Its latest survey, 2021 Impact of COVID-19 on SMEs, polled small businesses in the UK and the United States to find out what steps businesses are now taking to manage COVID risks.
Many small businesses are calling on their employees to get vaccinated. In the UK, the findings show that 58% of SMEs have taken steps to mandate vaccination for employees, including 73% of companies in Greater London and 45% in the rest of the UK. More than half of those mandating vaccinations (56%) say they will offer incentives to encourage vaccination, including paid time off work to get a vaccine, a holiday with proof of vaccination and even cash or other compensation.
In the UK, 53% of small firms say they are rethinking the plan to return to the office and an additional 15% say they have already delayed their "work in the office" start date. Of those who have delayed a return to the office, 32% of respondents are delaying until September; 11% are delaying until October; 19% are delaying until November or later; and 38% don't yet have a firm timeline. Seven in ten UK SMEs (71%) say that they will be offering a "work from home" option indefinitely.
For those UK firms that have made changes to their return-to-work plans, these include:
- Requiring social distancing in the workplace (62%);
- Limiting the number of people in the workspace at one time (60%);
- Requiring masks or PPE (47%);
- Upgrading air filters or air conditioning equipment (49%);
- Altering the workplace with physical dividers (45%).
"SMEs continue to exhibit great resourcefulness, flexibility and initiative in responding to the pandemic and the Delta variant," said Rajat Bhargava, ceo of JumpCloud. "As an SME ourselves, we know the current conditions are extremely fluid, and like the majority of respondents, we had to rethink and delay our office return and hybrid workplace options."
Written by Rachel Miller.